THE BRIDE, TAWNY LANGSTON, WAS radiant in a white, floor-length taffeta gown with fitted bodice, ruffled sleeves and a pearl neckline. The tuxedoed groom, Steve Cloudt, who sews boat covers and duffel bags for a living, looked justifiably proud. He had, after all, brought something extra to the Sept. 16 nuptials in Boise, Idaho: He had made his bride's wedding gown.
"I don't believe that seeing the dress before the wedding is bad luck," says Cloudt, 29, who spent 25 hours cutting, stitching and fitting the size-8 creation chosen from a pattern book. "This dress will bring us good luck."
Cloudt, who met Langston, 24, a food-and-beverage loader for Horizon Airlines, in 1990, decided on the do-it-yourself route after visiting bridal shops. The dress Tawny wanted cost $1,700. "Another one cost $500," says Cloudt. "I knew it cost only $100 to make. I told her, 'I'll make it myself.' " She was surprised, but, she says, "I had a lot of faith in Steve."
After visiting fabric stores and looking at patterns, Langston settled on New Look pattern No. 6030. The dress cost $118. "It would have cost $105," says Cloudt, "but I messed up the ruffles and had to buy new ones."
Cloudt, partners with his father, Richard, in Undercover Productions, a custom-sewing company, first developed his skills in eighth-grade homeec class, where he was the only boy. "There was a ski jacket I wanted, but it cost $400, so Dad told me to make it myself," he says. By high school he was creating backpacks and tote bags to sell to classmates. "It was my way to make money without working at McDonald's," he says.
Now that his debut as a wedding-dress maker has gone off without a hitch (except for his and Tawny's, of course), Cloudt is thinking of branching out from duffels and tarps. "If somebody else wants me to make them a wedding dress," he says, "I'd be willing to talk." Trouble is, he may be too busy. "If Steve can make a wedding dress," says Tawny, "I bet he can make baby clothes."
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